From the father of a transgender child to an actor who lost his mother in his teens — people from different walks of life gathered Saturday to talk about their experiences and share lessons on parenting.
Organised by the child and mental health institute Children First, the event, IMAGINE 2019, brought together parents, teachers, psychologists, counsellors, therapists and medical practitioners.
Sharing his experience of raising a transgender daughter, Dr Sanjay Sharma, CEO and managing director of Association for Transgender Health in India, shared how crucial it is for a parent to focus on the happiness of children rather than worrying about the society: “I learned not to say things like ‘aisa toh nahi hota hai’, ‘hamare time mein toh aisa ye nahi hota tha’ to my child. I learned to listen and understand. It was my 96-year-old father who provided support and said, ‘Taksh is a child and you will stand with him. I am with you’,” he said.
Centred on the theme, Parenting With Courage, the day-long conclave focussed on taking collective responsibility for children in society and creating a safe environment for future generations.
Dr Amit Sen, founder-director of Children First and founder of the mental health programme at Salaam Baalak Trust, shared his experience of living with ADHD, and of realising that celebrating oneself requires great understanding from friends, family and the society at large.
Sitting across a small table, experts — divided into ‘story weavers’ and ‘story tellers’ — spoke about life experiences as children and as parents.
Aditi Chaudhary, who lost her child to pulmonary fibrosis and whose life inspired the film, The Sky is Pink, spoke about the importance of expressing oneself.
“Losing my first child Tanya changed me as a person. I was a quiet person and did not have any self esteem. When Tanya was sick, I kept feeling there is something wrong but no one listened to me. I decided that I will never be silent if there is something related to my children. Tanya gave birth to that part of me. It’s okay to be angry and frustrated. We judge everything as positive and negative,” she said.
Arjun Mathur, an actor from the web series, Made in Heaven, who lost his mother in a car accident when he was 13, said: “Before I started acting, at some point of life, I wanted to be a counsellor because I was feeling misunderstood myself… The most important thing I should talk about is my father, who was driving the car (at the time of the accident), and probably carries a lot of guilt for the loss… But unfortunately, I think he lacked the emotional support that we needed at that time, and I rebelled in every possible way.”
Sanjoy K Roy, founder trustee of Salaam Baalak Trust, spoke of the work they do with street children.
“We need a village to raise a child, and that village doesn’t exist anymore,” he said.
Dr Shelja Sen, one of the co-founders of Children First, summed it up: “IMAGINE is a call to action for our society to come together as a community so that we can build a better world for our children.”